Jeffrey Eder and Alan Geans lead Brownsburg town staff toward development, smooth day-to-day operations and guiding throughout the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement
By Stephanie Dolan
Just over a year ago Jeffrey Eder took the position of Brownsburg town manager, and he’s looking forward to helping the town grow, continue development patterns and bring in more jobs.
“What I liked about Brownsburg and what drew me here is that Brownsburg was a growing community, and there were growing downtown projects,” he said.
Eder, 50, worked in Illinois for 20 years prior to his move to Brownsburg. He is originally a Hoosier, born and raised about 80 miles north in Peru. He has a degree in urban planning from Ball State University and an MBA from the University of Kentucky.
“I liked coming back to my home state of Indiana,” said Eder who took the job in June 2019. “The communities I’ve worked in in Illinois were really stable communities and not really growing. Brownsburg is one of the fastest growing in the state.”
Eder has focused on economic development throughout his career and sees potential.
“I’ve done a lot of different kinds of projects, and that lends itself to Brownsburg’s continued growth, both in business and the residential that we have here already,” he said.
Recent projects, some before the coronavirus hit, include several new restaurants committing to open as well as the announcement for Kroger expansion and construction of an Aldi grocery store.
Eder is also working with developers on continuing development in downtown Brownsburg.
“There are some talks going on with a developer about another project in downtown that would add more residential and commercial spaces,” he said. “We’re also working to add some industrial companies to the area as well.”
Those developments include working on business and landowner initiatives, Eder said.
“I think Brownsburg has some great opportunity to really set a new direction along the Ronald Reagan corridor,” Eder said. “We’re working diligently with some of those property owners as well. COVID has slowed some of those discussions down and might change some of them going forward — to what degree I don’t know.”
Shortly after Eder took the position of town manager, Alan Geans stepped in as assistant town manager in January.
Geans, who previously worked for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati for 12 years, oversees primary operations of the town including recreation, development, public works and all services provided to the town and communication except police and fire.
“That is where I got a lot of skills in strategic planning and process management,” he said. “I’ll be bringing that to our business model and getting an idea of what’s working and what’s not and making adjustments moving forward.”
Addressing challenges in his jobs fits Geans’ skill set because he’s worked in positions that may not have had an abundance of resources but he found ways to make things work.
“I’ve been a national diversity chair for the YMCA,” he said. “We’ve come up with a lot of issues with Black Lives Matter in communities. It seems like it’s the right time to be here for me.
“I think my skill set helps a town that has been comfortable. I’m helping them understand how to be more efficient, whether you have the resources or not, and being good stewards of resources available to us. Since January, we’ve had the pandemic, and we’ve had protests and staffing issues and have just jumped right in.”
When COVID-19 hit and the town, state and country went into lockdown, town operations changed with the rest of the world, including laying off staff.
“We really had to think about our staff,” Eder said. “Being a municipality, we have some responsibility to staff and keeping our services going.”
Eder and Geans worked to put processes in place to protect staff as well as public works departments of water and sewer.
“Sanitation is key in any situation but especially during something like a pandemic,” Eder said. “The better the sanitization, the better the public will fare. We shut down town hall and instituted a lot of virtual meetings.”
The Brownsburg Town Council and other public meetings are back to in-person formats, but town hall is still only open by appointment. The town is also using permit software that allows patrons to pull permits online, making it easier for residents.
Geans said Eder is a considerate leader with passion for what he does and who uses a thoughtful decision making process. That offsets Geans’ tendency to see the bottom line, making them a good leadership pair.
“He’s matter of fact. It’s not personal,” Geans said. “My experiences have put me in the mindset that we make decisions based on what is right for the business. He’s more considerate of the people. I’m more considerate of the bottom line and the process. We work together pretty good.”
The longer the two collaborate, the better their workflow goes.
“He is assuming much more day-to-day operational activities for me, which allows me to spend more time on strategic and economic initiatives for the town,” Eder said. “We’re six months into the relationship, and I thoroughly enjoy it.”
Mary Louise Bewley, Brownsburg’s community engagement manager, enjoys working with Eder and Geans because they bring a focused, strategic approach to serving the residents of Brownsburg.
“They are serious about breaking down silos and having employees work across departments to achieve greater results,” she said.
Part of great results is having fun at work, Geans said.
“We laugh a lot, but we get a lot of work done, and at the end of the day we are working for the residents of the town, and we can’t forget that,” Geans said. “All of our decisions have to be based on what is best for the community.”
Getting to know Jeff Eder
Family: Johanna, wife of 25 years, and three boys ages 21, 19 and 16.
Do you have pets? Yes, Athens and Rome. They’re lab mixes. They’re also rescues. They are numbers three and four of the dogs that we’ve rescued since I’ve been married to my wife. I always tell anybody that if they’re looking to get a pet, the local shelter has plenty of options for you.
What is your favorite TV show? Lately it’s been “Gold Rush”
What is your favorite movie? “Star Wars”
Do you enjoy reading? I read a lot of science fiction.
Who or what inspires you? My grandfather was an inspiration to me. I looked up to him and learned a lot from him, like some leadership and business skills.
What is your favorite Hendricks County charity? Brownsburg Rotary Club
Getting to know Alan Geans
Family: Wife, Tonya
What’s your favorite TV show? “Sanford and Son”
What’s your favorite movie? “New Jack City”
What was the last book you read? I think the last book I read was “Good to Great.”
Do you have any travel plans? My wife and I are going to Indiana Dunes State Park.
Who or what inspires you? My parents. They’ve been lifelong business owners and have really just put me in a great situation where I grew up in a diverse environment and was able to experience a lot of differences in people through how they raised me.